There were three Pirelli World Challeng SprintX races over the weekend during the GP of Texas at COTA.
The first of those races was a make-up SprintX event from May when Round 4 was postponed due to heavy rain at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. In that race Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister recorded the victory in the No.58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. The duo claimed a 3.241-second win over Daniel Mancinelli and Niccolo Schiro in the No.31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3.
Bergmeister grabbed the lead on the opening lap and held the advantage until he pitted on lap 12. Long took over the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and fought off a strong challenge from Mancinelli and his Ferrari.
“Jorg and I first stood on the podium together at Le Mans in 2004,” said Long “It’s been a great run and he’s been a class act. He turned over a car to me that was not only still fresh but in balance. From there, I tried to set sail and have clean out laps. I didn’t have any traffic to worry about. We knew the Ferrari (No. 31) would be strong, they’d been strong all year – strong acceleration, aero, top speed – and this track has a little bit of everything. We really fought hard the last two days to find a balance that was optimal. He certainly drove up to me early on in my stint. Then it just became a mental battle. We’re here to win, and the best and safest way is to stay out front and we were able to do that. There’s a team behind me in Wright Motorsport who has put a lot on the line. We’re a small organization and we push hard as a single pro entry against some big, manufacturer-backed, multiple-car entries.”
Said Bergmeister, “I thought that I would just try to see what would happen at the start from the outside front row. Luckily, I managed to get around on the outside and grab the lead. I was able to build a nice gap in the lead. From there I just tried to conserve the tires for Patrick. It worked out perfectly. Driving (with Patrick) is good. I enjoy it. Obviously, his championship is on the line here so I have quite a responsibility not to mess it up for him. So, I’m happy to start the weekend off like this.”
Finishing third in the Pro/Pro division and overall was Ryan Dalziel and Daniel Morad in the No.2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 followed by Cooper and J. Taylor in the No.8 Cadillac ATS-V.R. Johnny O’Connell and Ricky Taylor in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. followed.
In Round 9 Daniel Mancinelli and Niccolo Schiro took the win in the No. 31 TR3 Racing/The Collection Ferrari 488 GT3. Mancinelli chased pole winner Ricky Taylor in the No.3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. until the pit window open on lap 12. Both pitted and Schiro jumped into the Ferrari and four-time PWC GT champion Johnny O’Connell began his stint in the Cadillac. The duel continued with Schiro hounding O’Connell for another lap and a half. Then Schiro made an inside move for the lead at turn 12 and then opened his advantage for the final ten laps to cross the finish line 2.158 seconds ahead of O’Connell.
“My race was very good. I pushed a lot in the first laps but I didn’t have enough speed in this race to pass the No. 3 Cadillac (Taylor),” said Mancinelli. “I tried to pass again in the last sector at turn 15, but I couldn’t do it and had to back off until the pit stop. Then Niccolo (Schiro) did a fantastic job in the second part of the race. He overtook Johnny (O’Connell) and that allowed us to take the win back home which is good for the team because it’s our first year in the championship and our first time running here. This place (COTA) is nice, wonderful, amazing – the fast corner in the first part and then the two fun corners in the last part. Also, COTA is a very important track because MotoGP and Formula 1 race here. Racing in America is fun and exciting.”
In the Pro/Am class, James Sofronas and Mathieu Jamine collected their second consecutive division win of the weekend in the No.14 GMG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R over Tim Pappas of and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No.54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Mike McCannand Mike Skeen in the No. 82 McCann Racing Audi R8 LMS.
In Round 10 the Mercedes-AMG GT3 team of Dalziel and Morad of returned to winner’s circle after holding off the Porsche pair of Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister. Driving the No.2 CRP Racing/DeVilbiss Mercedes-AMG GT3 Dalziel and Morad used a great start, stellar pit stop and a late race drive to secure the duo’s second PWC SprintX win of the year.
SprintX point leaders Jordan Taylor and Michael Cooper suffered a rare DNF Sunday in the No.8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. when Taylor made contact with Daniel Mancinelli in turn two during the opening lap. Despite the mishap, the Cadillac drivers still managed to unofficially clinch the SprintX Pro/Pro GT point championship.
Third was Pierre Kaffe and Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi RS8 LMS car followed by the McLaren team of Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat in the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S.
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